Five Signs Your Employee is Ready to Be Promoted

At the end of the day, even if your business has the latest and greatest workforce management software, there’s no greater resource than your employees. No matter how many collaboration tools you have, it’s ultimately your employees who will determine whether your company fails or thrives.

It's crucial to ensure that your top positions are filled with the most qualified people and that top-notch employees aren’t bored or feeling that their skills are going to waste at their current position. Promotions play an important role in keeping top talent invested in your company. Here are a few markers that indicate that it might be time to promote an employee. 

 They excel at their job

If an employee is clearly exceeding their goals, this is usually an obvious time for promotion. No matter what the job, if a worker is outpacing their peers, it’s often a key indicator of their potential. If you have a quick learner that is easily adaptable to new concepts, an employer may wish to nurture those qualities by providing them with additional responsibilities. Or perhaps your best worker has developed superior skills because they have been on the job longer, accruing significantly more experience. In this case, their knowledge and mastery of the trade is something that will likely better serve the company if they are elevated to a higher position.

Advancing the career of the strongest worker also shows other employees that good work will be recognized and rewarded. When you have employees who have been performing at the highest level over many years, but are never promoted, less-experienced workers might assume there are few opportunities for advancement within the company, no matter how good they get at their jobs.  

They’ve already taken on additional responsibilities

Your best workers will tend to assume duties that go beyond their job description. That can take different forms based on the job and the workforce tools available to them. They may be staying later than they have to, or continuing to work while off-the-clock or from home. They might be providing you with valuable insight and advice that you typically don’t expect from workers in their position. Most impressively, they may have adopted an unofficial leadership role, with other workers in their position looking to them for instructions or guidance.

While employers may admire when a worker goes well beyond their pay grade, it can also be cause for concern. First, you need to make sure that your employees aren’t working overtime hours that they aren’t getting paid for. And while you should be thrilled that an employee is doing more than expected, if you don’t step in to recognize their contributions, you risk that top-notch employee feeling undervalued and exploited. Ambitious workers typically go the extra mile with the hope that it will eventually pay off with a monetary raise and/or a new title. If they conclude that the promise of career advancement is a mirage, they will seek another employer who will more adequately recognize and reward their skills.

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They demonstrate workplace decorum

How an employee treats their coworkers is just as vital as their skills when you’re deciding whether they should be assigned additional responsibilities and receive a pay raise. While technical skills are important, they are often much easier to teach than character. A talented employee who regularly argues with fellow workers or has trouble following basic rules may be a strong candidate for a promotion, but only after they prove that they can conduct themselves appropriately. Promoting an employee with behavioral problems sends the wrong message to other employees by suggesting that the company lacks values, and that bad behavior will be overlooked or even rewarded. That perception can lead to low employee morale, one of the greatest workforce management challenges for employers.

In contrast, promoting a worker who regularly displays respect for colleagues and exhibits consistently good behavior will be a respected move and send the right message about your organization.

They seek career advancement

Not every employee who wants to climb the ranks of an organization is deserving of doing so. But workers who are confident in their ability and hungry for additional responsibility are the ones who are most likely to hit the ground running in a new position. They will step into it with excitement rather than hesitation.

Listen carefully to your employees when they approach you about advancing in the organization. Knowing who is eager to take on additional responsibility makes workforce planning much easier. Depending on the timing, you may to have to tell them that you don’t think they’re ready for a new position or that there simply isn’t a higher position available at the time. That said, you should still acknowledge their enthusiasm and welcome their interest in rising within your company. Knowing that they are setting their sights high displays not only ambition, but also commitment. If they are planning that the next step in their career will be at your company, you should do everything possible to nurture that goal, ensuring that they won't leave before an elevated role becomes available.

They’re eager to learn

The employees with the greatest potential to grow are those who exhibit curiosity about the business beyond their specific duties. They want to learn more about what goes into the project management decisions that shape the work they do. They frequently ask questions about why things are done a certain way and offer suggestions on how they could be done more effectively. 

A worker who not only masters everything they are taught, but is also constantly thinking about new and innovative ways of doing business, is exactly the type of person that employers should be looking to promote. Employees with minds that are active and open make them an ideal fit for positions that demand both leadership and sound judgement.

When you’re promoting an employee, you are signaling to them that you are ready to collaborate more closely with them and rely on them more. While you want your closest colleagues to be loyal, you also want them to be dynamic and independent thinkers, whose priority is doing whatever is right for the business.

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